You’re ready to go explore a new country and make a difference to others! But is your bag packed with all the necessities? Check out our 5 packing tips when volunteering abroad.
1. Pack light, buy the rest locally
You are entitled to 30kg of luggage (weights may vary due to different airline requirements) but should you pack the full weight? Lugging your luggage around on the airport and trying to fit your bag in the overhead compartment can get difficult if it is too heavy for you to lift. Cape Town is a big city with access to all the basic necessities and comforts. Try to eliminate those items you could easily buy locally to reduce the weight of your bag such as shampoos, toothpaste and bath products.
2. Get a comfortable luggage case
While you will not always need to slog around your luggage case and there will most certainly be plenty of friendly porters at the Cape Town airports, keep in mind that you would potentially need to transfer/ carry your case yourself. Try to get a case with wheels that is well balanced and easy to pull and lift. Backpacks are always easy to manage but make sure you can carry the weight on your back before going this route!
3. Check the local weather
When going to a new country it is imperative to check the local weather and seasonal changes. Cape Town does not have snow in winter and generally has a very pleasant climate but with a reputation of having four seasons in a day it is important to be prepared! Ensure that you have at least one item for the different seasons and chat to your volunteer organisation about what items you might need that are specific to your chosen programme.
4. Don’t pack your entire closet
While Cape Town is very trendy and the World Design Capital for 2014, packing your new jeans might not be the best idea. Not only will you be spending a lot of time in impoverished areas, but your activities might render some of your clothes sad and unwearable. This can be a bonus as you might need to leave it behind to make space for all the awesome gifts you have bought in creative Cape Town!
5. Pack your hand luggage with care
All volunteers should remember this tip. Hand luggage is almost more important than your luggage case! Get a comfortable bag that can carry all your necessities for the plane ride as well as when you volunteer. It should be easy to carry and have a safe compartment for all your travel documents. A sling bag can be recommended but be careful not to buy it too big before you’re tempted to load too much weight.